Airplane or airport experiences...

CrzRsn

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A few new experiences to report from my recent trip.

First off, Virgin Atlantic. Oh my! I think this is my new preferred transatlantic carrier. Starting with the Virgin Clubhouse at JFK - this was easily the nicest lounge I've ever been to. Comfortable, quiet, great atmosphere, good food. Then I got into an economy seat on one of Virgin's new A350-1000s and it was very quiet and smooth. The seats were fairly comfortable and the recline was one of the best I can recall offhand from any of my international economy flights. The food was also the best meal I've ever had on a plane, even beating out what was served in KLM's World Business. The only downside was that the IFE was inop the whole flight, but the flight attendants proactively handed out apology letters offering a decent amount of miles as compensation. Once in London, the added perk of being able to shower and have a full breakfast at the Revival's lounge was incredible. I had never seen a lounge for arriving passengers, but this made total sense.
On the return journey, having a deserted Priority security lane was fantastic and the Virgin Clubhouse at LHR was also very nice, though not quite as quiet as the one at JFK. The return flight was on an older A330-300, but it was still very pleasant. The IFE worked this time, but the system was much older with smaller screens, but not nearly as old and broken as the one on the AF A380 I flew on in November.


Now for the 2nd part of this trip - my first experience with a discount European airline. Flew Wizz Air UK out of LTN. Based on everything I read on Wizz Air's site and the internet, I was expecting a disaster of the highest proportions. Lines a mile long, hours in security, delayed flights, insane fees. But no, overall everything was very pleasant. The bag drop line seemed like it was 3 hours long, but I only had a carryon, so didn't need to worry about that. Got through LTN security in about 5 minutes and without issues. The biggest scare came at the gate when they told me my carryon was too big and I'd have to pay. The main reason they said that was because it was a roller suitcase rather than a backpack. Well, it met their size criteria as it was specifically designed to fit under the seat infront of me and was smaller than most people's backpacks. They did make me try to fit it into the size check bin next to the counter and it fit perfectly except for the wheels, so they reluctantly let me though. Took a photo on the plane with it under the seat just in case for the return trip. The plane ended up boarding on time, but we sat there for an hour and a half due to ATC issues, but only ended up arriving 30 mins late, so not too shabby. Unfortunate I bought a souvenir that I totally forgot couldn't go in carryon luggage, so I ended up paying the crazy check luggage fee for the return journey. And once back at Luton I managed to get through passport control in about 10 seconds flat (its nice that US passports can use e-gates now), and 15 minutes later I was walking away from the baggage reclaim belt with my bag.

All in all, my first Euro discount carrier experience exceeded my expectations greatly. Was expecting a disaster of gargantuan proportions, and instead got a very reasonable flight experience.

Yesterday at DTW though

You're in Detroit?
 

calvinhobbes

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You're in Detroit?
Yes, but only for a few more hours. The trips to the US have become one-nighters, which is nice for my wallet, but terrible for the experience. It might be nice to get out of a boring place after just one night, but I’m very happy to have experienced the longer stays in interesting places.
 

CrzRsn

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Yes, but only for a few more hours.

Got time for lunch? Work has been pretty slow today. Thought I guess depending on where you are, it may not be slow enough.
 

CrzRsn

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Ugh, damn it, I’ve only just seen that. I’m at the airport now, so hopefully next time, we can have lunch!

Indeed. Next time you're going through DTW, remember there's a little slice of FinalGear in Detroit. I work just 15 mins from DTW. Safe flight.
 

CrzRsn

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76OV9ax.jpg


Not a bad end to the year. Was a slacker in April evidently.
 

RdKetchup

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Somebody filmed this in a Dash 8-300 taking-off from Montreal recently... Oupsy.

 

GRtak

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Where is the Gremlin on the wing?
 

DanRoM

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I knew this thread was buried in a shallow grave somewhere, so I got my construnction equipment and dug it out.

So, I've been on holiday in Greece this past week, and we had flights DUSseldorf - ATHens and back. And flying stays my least favourite mode of travel.
  • The flights themselves: We flew with Eurowings, and as I am already used to, their seats have just enough leg room for me. Apart from that, they just plain cancelled the breakfast snack we had booked with our tickets. Bastards. Luckily, I had brought cookies.
  • DUS is just really bad at being an airport. The road signage towards the parking decks is bad. But worse, the staff shortage really affects operations. Even before Covid, I always had the feeling that the airport barely managed to work, but now, it's even worse. I am sure when the school summer holidays start, this will get into the regional news again.
    After our return flight, we had to wait 2.5 hours at the baggage retrieval. Two. Point. Five. Hours. And at the other belts, the situation wasn't any better. The following flight of the plane we arrived in got cancelled, so I assume they didn't manage to get our luggage out of the cargo hold in time. And to cap it all off, at several points someone triggered the PA to blast their "luggage retrieval at belt X is delayed, we apologize for the inconvenience" announcement, for all the belts, straight in a row. At some point, a worker with a cart full of water bottles arrived and handed them out, so there's at least that.
    A question to the knowledgable folks (@RdKetchup, @calvinhobbes et al.): Is the baggage handling the responsibily of the airline or the airport - which one of those contracts the baggage handlers?
  • ATH is, by contrast, a very nice airport. Sure, the check-ion on the way back was slow and the baggage handling had a hiccup (the whole belt system behind the check-in counters was suffering a blockage), but to balance that out their distributed security was far smoother than the centralised one at DUS. They also played nice background music, and the near-total absence of ads was noticeable in a very positive way.
 

calvinhobbes

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Is the baggage handling the responsibily of the airline or the airport - which one of those contracts the baggage handlers?

AFAIK, it depends on the airport and airline. It can be as simple as airline employees doing the work, but it can also be a jungle of subcontractors.
 

calvinhobbes

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Oh Heathrow, bane of the airline passenger, I scorn you so…

tl;dr: Don’t connect through there on oneworld if you can’t allow hours for it. And having to clear security again no matter where you’re coming from is ridiculous.

I was booked on a British Airways/American Airlines connection from Germany to the US. Did all the electronic paperwork and noticed that there was nowhere to enter my visa data. So I only got a mobile boarding pass to LHR, but not across the pond.

I thought I’d just head to the BA check-in counter, have them enter the visa and get both boarding passes… nope. No can do, you have to contact AA at LHR for the second one.

Which might have been fine if any of the transfer computers there had worked and/or there had been more than two desks for AA. And there were many passengers having to be rebooked, which took forever. So despite the help from the people in the office behind the desks, I got my onward boarding pass too late and the electronic gate before security didn’t let me through.

So back to the desks, get rebooked on BA on a flight 40 minutes after the AA one (and the last of the day) and then use every fast lane and shortcut available to try and catch it. I made it and the result is actually quite alright: I’m now on a spacious A380 instead of yet another cramped 777. 😮‍💨
 

Matt2000

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While I'll happily bash Heathrow, from the description that particular issue sounds more like a Oneworld or American Airlines issue than the airport.

Glad you made it on a better flight though!
 

eizbaer

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Glad you made it on a better flight though!
sorta reminds me when china eastern screwed up my flight from Hong Kong to Auckland via Shanghai. Yes it was a dumb choice of connection and airline, I know that now, but it was cheap :| not a mistake I’ll make again…
anyway after keeping me in their plane on the runway for 3 hours, then debarring and spending all of 4 hours in a hotel bed, they put me on an air NZ flight direct to Auckland the next day - could’ve been worse!
re experience: hing Kong was utterly delightful. For such a large airport I never felt lost, overwhelmed or anything. Very nice!
edit: actually that description goes for all of hk. Or used to, 5 years ago…
 

RdKetchup

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Last time I went to Melbourne I was flying YUL-YYZ-LAX-MEL.

Air Canada made me miss my connection in YYZ, so they rebooked me on their YYZ-YVR-SYD flight, with a Qantas last leg to MEL.

Since I had paid for an Emergency exit seat for my LAX-MEL Qantas flight I asked if I could get something similar, and they gave me business class for the YYZ-YVR-SYD flight. 😎
 

93Flareside

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Last time I went to Melbourne I was flying YUL-YYZ-LAX-MEL.

Air Canada made me miss my connection in YYZ, so they rebooked me on their YYZ-YVR-SYD flight, with a Qantas last leg to MEL.

Since I had paid for an Emergency exit seat for my LAX-MEL Qantas flight I asked if I could get something similar, and they gave me business class for the YYZ-YVR-SYD flight. 😎

That’s a nice gesture.
 

calvinhobbes

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While I'll happily bash Heathrow, from the description that particular issue sounds more like a Oneworld or American Airlines issue than the airport.

It was, but apart from the odd routing through Gatwick, you can’t fly BA/AA from Germany to the US without going through Heathrow. Also, the problem was made worse by the layout of terminal 5. The customer service/transit desks were an absolute chaos and other airports have a lot more space for them.

And why do people have to go through security again if they came from other safe airports such as Frankfurt? It doesn’t usually happen when you’re connecting in mainland Europe and security at Heathrow does not tend to be a great experience.

Finally, the way that British airports refuse to tell you what your gate is as early as possible has always annoyed me. It’s not so bad if there’s just one concourse and you can make your way to the gate in a few minutes, but when you have to take a train from T5A to T5C or walk half an hour, it’d be nice if they didn’t keep you waiting in the airside shopping mall.

/rant

I think I need to raise the issue of LCY internally… why they never book us through that airport when the destination is London is beyond me.
 

calvinhobbes

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Hong Kong was utterly delightful. For such a large airport I never felt lost, overwhelmed or anything. Very nice!
edit: actually that description goes for all of hk. Or used to, 5 years ago…

Yup. While I’m very happy to have experienced it before the political changes and COVID, I’m heartbroken for the people of HK.
 
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